Thursday, July 19, 2012

Benigno R. Fitial for Delegate

I really thought Ben Fitial was going to run for US Congress this year.  The job of delegate is the best job around these parts with a salary in the range of $170K, travel benefits, health insurance, a pension after so many years of service, a huge operational budget, and lest we forget, the power of the United States Congress.  It is the highest ranking federal position in the Marianas, and in islands where every single person seeks to obtain power and influence by running for elected office, it is the most coveted job one can aspire to.

The job of governor is nice, too.  The governor gets to dole out about 3,000 jobs and for a great many families, determines who eats lobster and who gets food stamps.  The governor is the highest ranking local official, which has its perks, but in no way compares to the prestige of being in the US Congress.  And the pay stinks.  The governor makes about 1/3 what the delegate makes, although the governor traditionally gives himself and certain members of his cabinet free unlimited utilities -- which they've been known to share with all the other houses in their family compounds from time to time.

It is no secret around these parts that the governor wants to either (a) elect a delegate he can control or (b) become the next delegate.  I really thought he was going to opt for the latter action and am surprised that he has instead asked Dr. Ignacia T. Demapan to run.

I've thought about writing this post for months, but held off due to the fact that I'm thinking about voting in Virginia this year (I maintain a household on Saipan and am still a resident and am still registered there).  Well, I'm on Saipan for a few days and everyone here talks about politics wherever I go, so what the heck.

You see, this would have been the perfect year for Ben Fitial to run for delegate.  It would have been a win-win-win for him.  As Louis Crisostimo showed us in 2008, it is not necessary to resign from your local seat if you want to run for a federal position.  Therefore, the governor could have run and maintained his position as governor.  He could have used the bully pulpit of the governorship to help him get elected, and win or lose, he'd still have a job afterwards.  If he won, he could resign as governor, have trusted co-Tan Holdings VP Eloy Inos take over, and gone off to Washington, DC.  If he lost, he'd still be governor.  And he could still run again in two years when his governorship termed out.

So has Dr. Demapan turned in her paperwork yet?  Because there still might be time before August 8 for Ben Fitial to collect enough signatures to run for delegate.

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